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NatureBox: Healthy snacks just got a lot tastier

2014 August 28
by Emily Hill


Okay, I admit it. We’re not the healthiest of snackers around here. My kids’ favorite back-to-school snacks in their back-to-school lunches are fruit snacks (not the healthy kind), chocolate chip granola bars, fig bars and Goldfish crackers. While not as junky as potato chips or a full-size candy bar, they’re definitely not as healthy as fruit and other snacks devoid of added sugars and high fructose corn syrup.

Of course, my favorite back-to-school snacks list includes cookies, Diet Coke and bite-size Twix bars—there’s definitely room for improvement.


NatureBox review

I’d heard of NatureBox before but wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to a monthly delivery of healthy snacks without knowing how “healthy” those snacks tasted. Well, I’m here to tell you that NatureBox snacks are some of the tastiest healthy snacks around. Granted, not everything we tried was a hit but enough of the snacks were to have me thinking NatureBox is the way to go for back-to-school snacking.


NatureBox review

NatureBox delivers a wonderful variety of carefully sourced, nutritionist-approved foods to your door. It’s like a super healthy Christmas present every month! Each snack contains wholesome ingredients without artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors. When you join NatureBox, you’ll receive five different snacks from their snack catalog every month. You can choose the snacks you want or be surprised with their carefully curated selections.

I usually like surprises but not when it comes to my snacks so I always choose my own.

Pictured above you can see the NatureBox snacks we tried: Carrot Strawberry Fruit Chews, Big Island Pineapple, Salted Caramel Pretzel Pops, Peanut Butter Nom Noms and French Vanilla Almond Granola. My absolute most favorite in the entire world was the Big Island Pineapple. Holy crap, I could eat an entire pallet of those things.


NatureBox review - Big Island Pineapple

My other two favorites were the Peanut Butter Nom Noms (because they tasted a lot like my favorite peanut butter oatmeal protein bites)…


NatureBox review - Peanut Butter Nom Noms

…and the French Vanilla Almond Granola.


NatureBox review -- French Vanilla Almond Granola

Madison liked the Salted Caramel Pretzel Pops though I found them kind of dry and bland. As for the Carrot Strawberry Fruit Chews, they were the least favorite. But that’s okay because next time I can simply order an extra bag of the Big Island Pineapple instead. Or maybe I’ll try the Asiago & Cheddar Cheese Crisps. Or Roasted Kettle Kernels. Or Peppery Pistachios. Mmm…

The nice thing about NatureBox snacks is how perfect they are before, during and after school. Think quick breakfast when you’re running late, healthier lunches for aspiring students and tasty after-school snacking for the entire family…and the neighborhood if your home is a revolving door like mine. Of course you can snack healthy without NatureBox as long as you remember a few important things:

  • Make healthier options readily available; place them front and center in the pantry or on the counter.
  • Reserve soda and other sugar drinks for special occasions like family get-togethers and parties.
  • Skip dessert during the week and enjoy it on the weekends.
  • Switch from ice cream to low-fat frozen yogurt or sorbet with no added sugar.
  • Replace crackers and other carbs with easy-to-eat fruits like clementines, apples, grapes and bananas.
  • Avoid snacking during “down” time like TV watching, video gaming and other stationary activities.


Interested in trying out NatureBox? You’re in luck!

Click here to get 50% OFF your first month’s NatureBox delivery ($10 value) using promo code: SNACKTOSCHOOL

Fine Crumbs: Promotion is good for 50% off your first month to month box or $10 off your first box in your first prepaid subscription. New and US subscribers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.


You can see the entire collection of NatureBox snacks by browsing the NatureBox Snack Catalog. Just don’t forget the pineapple!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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Chocolate chip Twix cookies

2014 August 26
by Emily Hill

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the first day of school is not chocolate chip Twix cookies (gasp!) but all the things I’ll accomplish while my children are gone for seven hours. And then I remember how I thought that last year and was sadly mistaken.

But the second thing that comes to mind is cookies. Cookies are the perfect back-to-school treat for the entire family…especially me because I have all that time to eat them before everyone arrives home.

Wanting to try something new (as usual) and jonesing for my favorite candy bar (Twix), I combined the basic dough recipe from these chocolate sprinkle cookies with a huge handful of chopped Twix candy bar.


Chocolate chip Twix cookies


Oh my.

Double oh my if you eat one (or more) hot from the oven.

These were a hit, which pretty much makes me the best mom ever. For now.

Printable recipe for chocolate chip Twix cookies below.

Chocolate Chip Twix Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
The dough is just as to die for as the baked cookies. Feel free to mix it up with a different candy bar like Snickers or Butterfinger. You'll want to refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours if possible to prevent cookies from spreading too thin.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ to 2 cups coarsely chopped Twix candy bar
Instructions
  1. Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until thoroughly combined.
  2. Place the oats in a blender or food processor and blend until fine. Combine the ground oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and candy bar pieces. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least two hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into 1½-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until just barely set. Cookies will continue to set once removed from the oven. Let cool 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack..
Notes
I used regular size Twix candy bars and sliced them into just over ⅛" pieces. Feel free to make them smaller or larger depending on preference.

Here are a few other cookies you may want to bake to kick off the school year:


Chocolate sprinkle cookies


Chocolate sprinkle cookies


Seven layer bar cookies


Seven layer bar cookies


Salted caramel toffee Rolo cookies


Salted caramel Rolo cookies


Old-fashioned iced oatmeal cookies


Old-fashioned iced oatmeal cookies


Chocolate chip coconut cookies


Chocolate chip coconut cookies


ps post script

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Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Q’s Race to the Top teaches emotional intelligence

2014 August 25
by Emily Hill

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and EQtainment, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Qsracetothetop http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Remember Kenz Hall’s Stay Rad Kickstarter campaign? I have yet another awesome Kickstarter worth every dollar of your support: Q’s Race to the Top from EQtainment. Q’s Race to the Top is a children’s board game with the sole mission of improving your child’s emotional intelligence.


Qs Race to the Top by EQtainment
 
Qs Race to the Top by EQtainment

More and more research suggests improved emotional intelligence in children leads to readiness for school and may lead to life success in areas such as career, relationships, health and happiness. What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence includes skills like reading social cues, self-motivation, understanding delayed gratification, coping with life’s ups and downs, managing relationships and problem solving.

Perhaps they should make an adult version of the game. I know a few grownups who’d benefit.


Qs Race to the Top by EQtainment
 
Qs Race to the Top by EQtainment

EQtainment, the creators of Q’s Race to the Top, have launched their Kickstarter campaign to make sure the game and its accompanying storybook is available to anyone—parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers—looking for a fun, interactive way to improve a child’s emotional intelligence.

And believe me when I say “fun” and “interactive.” George sat down to play Q’s Race to the Top with his grandparents. We’re a game-loving family, so this was the perfect way to spend an afternoon while Grandma and Papa were in town. The game took very little setup time and instruction-reading time (another bonus!), and George was hooked as soon as he chose his first “DO” card.

I tried to snap a photo of him bustin’ a move in the family room but couldn’t get him to stand still!


Qs Race to the Top by EQtainment

Personally, my parents and I were fans of the “YOU” and “Q” cards. “YOU” cards get you thinking and talking about your feelings, something our entire family could work on. The “Q” cards have you discussing appropriate ways to handle various social situations. Considering how much time George spends in front of a screen (dang you, Minecraft!), these cards are super important. They give kids like George and Livi extra time to practice good manners and a positive attitude.

Maybe I should have my teenagers spend a few hours playing the game…

And let’s not forget the book! Younger children will love Q’s Wild Ride, a super cute adventure featuring Q, a leaf monkey, who learns a lesson about interpreting other people’s feelings and taking the time to stop and think before acting. Hmm…sounds like a lesson I should learn as well.

Here’s a quick video that might help give you a better idea of the awesomeness that is Q’s Race to the Top:


To get the details on the EQtainment Kickstarter campaign and to support this campaign, visit http://bit.ly/EQtainment.

You can find EQtainment online at EQtainment.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


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Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Kenz Hall launches Kickstarter campaign

2014 August 21
by Emily Hill

Many of you are familiar with my love  of—and sometimes frustration with—American Idol. As one of the IdolTweethearts, I followed American Idol Season XIII from beginning to end. I was ecstatic when Caleb Johnson snagged the win because I’m a fan of his rocker roots. But one of the biggest disappointments was watching as Kenz Hall was eliminated from the American Idol Top 30. I adore that girl, and not just because I’m good friends with her amazing mom.


Yeah, that’s why.

Though not a powerhouse, belt-your-lungs-out singer like Jena or Caleb, that girl has some serious talent, which is why I’m super excited about her Stay Rad Kickstarter campaign.


I can’t wait for her new album and have already backed the campaign. I’d love for you to do the same. Kenz has donation amounts ranging from $1 to $2500 (if you’re interested in a private acoustic concert). Every little bit helps when it comes to Kickstarter, and if she doesn’t raise every single dollar of the $2500 goal, she gets nothing and you get your donation back. That’s how Kickstarter works.


Kenz Hall Stay Rad Kickstarter

To show your support of Kenz Hall’s Stay Rad Kickstarter campaign, click here.

If you want to keep up with Kenz Hall’s music and performances, you can find her online at Kenzies’ Music & Events. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Detour SMART Bars — because healthy snacks should taste good

2014 August 20
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Detour Bar. All thoughts and opinions are 100 percent honest and super healthy.

Believe you me, I’ve had my fair share of healthy snack bars and protein bars. I’ve found only a few I like—and I usually like them not because they’re packed with protein or feature some sort of chocolaty peanut butter flavor but because they’re saturated with sugar. How else can you keep a “healthy” snack bar from tasting too healthy?


Detour SMART Bar review


Apparently Detour has figured it out. Their new Detour SMART Bars combine healthy snacking (lower calories, organic ingredients), high protein (whey vs. soy, double-digit protein) and energy (whole grain carbs) without sacrificing taste.

Trust me.

I’ve tasted both the Apple Cinnamon and Blueberry Detour SMART Bars and they really do taste good…even with only 4 grams of sugar.


Detour SMART Bar review


I don’t know about you, but stats on a package don’t mean much unless you can compare them with the competition. Perhaps this little graphic will give you a better idea as to how amazing these Detour SMART Bars really are… because they have impressive stats AND taste so much better than their cardboard counterparts.


Detour SMART bars nutrition info

What most stands out to me is the protein source (we get way too much soy in our diets as it is) and the lower sugar, fat and carb counts. It’s like the perfect pre- and post-workout snack. Ever.


Detour SMART Bar review

Don’t let the photo fool you. We polished off those partially eaten SMART Bars in no time.

And for those of you trying to make sure your kids eat a healthy school lunch, Detour SMART Bars are a great alternative to fruit snacks and granola bars. With that Greek yogurt drizzle atop the bars, even the pickiest eater will enjoy these during snack time.

To learn more about Detour and their scrumptious SMART Bars, check them out onilne at DetourBar.com. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You’ll want to find me on Instagram as well because I’ll be hosting a giveaway for two boxes of Detour SMART Bars.

Giveaway will end August 27th, so don’t miss it!


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Choose Cherries: Tropical tart cherry smoothie

2014 August 19
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of the Cherry Marketing Institute. All thoughts, opinions and recipes featuring tart cherries are 100 percent honest and all mine.

A couple weeks ago I wrote my first post about tart cherries—the post in which I admitted to never hearing of tart cherries or tart cherry juice before participating in the 7-Day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge? It featured my latest healthy snack addiction, cherry chocolate chip protein bites. You know, these delightful bundles of goodness:


Cherry chocolate chip protein bites

Well…guess what? I’m back with another good-for-you recipe involving tart cherries. This time I took the tart cherry juice concentrate and created a rather delightful tropical tart cherry smoothie.


Tropical tart cherry smoothie


This tropical tart cherry smoothie combines the refreshing tartness of tart cherry juice concentrate, frozen tropical fruit, almond milk and Greek yogurt. You can throw in a half banana to thicken the mixture and add a bit of magnesium, vitamins C and B-6. You’ll find the recipe for this tropical tart cherry smoothie at the end of the post.


Tropical tart cherry smoothie


Now it’s time to remind you why I think tart cherries and tart cherry juice are so awesome.

Do you remember the research suggesting tart cherry juice may help ease muscle pain associated with intense exercise? I was all over that 7-day challenge, hoping it would help my sore hips and knees after some treadmill work. I drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day for 7 days. And just like the research indicated, I experienced less inflammation and muscle soreness post workout. Rather than aches and pains requiring ibuprofen, those same aches and pains were hardly noticeable.

But I wanted to make sure the tart cherry juice was really helping, so after those seven days I went off the tart cherry juice for a full week. And I’m here to tell you, my joints feel the difference. More recovery time post Zumba (hey, I really bust a move!) and I didn’t realize the tart cherries were helping my shoulders in yoga. So now I’m going back on the juice, especially with my 40th birthday just around the corner.

If only tart cherry juice reduced the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.

You should try the 7-Day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge. You can find tart cherry juice and tart cherry juice concentrate at stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and your local grocery store.


Tart Cherries 7-Day Challenge

Printable recipe for tropical tart cherry smoothie below.

Tropical Tart Cherry Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Smoothie
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
This good-for-you smoothie combines tart cherry juice concentrate with frozen tropical fruit, Greek yogurt, almond milk and banana (banana is optional).
Ingredients
  • 1 to 1½ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 to 2 T tart cherry juice concentrate, to taste
  • 2 cups frozen tropical medley (pineapple, mango, strawberry)
  • ½ banana (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place 1 cup almond milk, 1 T cherry juice concentrate, frozen tropical medley and banana in a blender in order listed. Blend on high speed (or smoothie setting).
  2. Add more almond milk until mixture reaches desired consistency. Add more tart cherry juice concentrate to taste. Serve immediately.


To learn more about tart cherries and the benefits of tart cherry juice, visit ChooseCherries.com. You can find more tart cherry goodness on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Just what’s inside a Swiffer Big Green Box?

2014 August 14
by Emily Hill


I love the commercial in which Lee and Morty receive a Swiffer Big Green Box (#BigGreenBox) on their front porch and proceed to clean the house together.


Does a Swiffer Big Green Box really make people that excited?


Swiffer Big Green Box review

Heck YES! Not only did I receive one of these glorious boxes but I was able to surprise my friend Ashley with one as well.


Okay, how fun was that?

Though there’s no footage of me receiving my Swiffer Big Green Box, believe me when I say it was a grand moment indeed. But even more awesome was hearing my (younger) kids immediately ask to use the Swiffer Duster and Swiffer Sweeper. They rarely offer to help clean the house unless it involves bribery in the form of a Slurpee, but the power of the #SwifferEffect was in full force after I cracked open those Swiffer cleaning products.

Note the messy kitchen desk in the third photo. You can tell the only staging taking place was asking the kids to hold still so I could snap a photo that wasn’t blurry.


Swiffer Big Green Box review

Swiffer Big Green Box review

Swiffer Big Green Box review

I love how Swiffer makes it easy for anyone—and everyone—in our family to pitch in to make cleaning a little bit more fun, which makes life just a little bit better.

And a little cleaner.

I swept my floors not 24 hours earlier; check out the treasures our Swiffer Sweeper found.


Swiffer Big Green Box - Swiffer Sweeper

Ew.

Speaking of family, any Eric Stonestreet fans out there? Eric, aka Cameron Tucker in Modern Family, has THE BEST Swiffer video on the YouTubes. It features his mom and is a must watch.


I think next time my mom comes to visit I’ll make her feel right at home too, but in her case that means York Peppermint Patties in the fridge and lots of grandchildren to spoil. I’ll leave the Swiffer-ing to whichever child is driving me the most crazy.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.